ARTS IN LOS ANGELES
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December 2020

Celebrating the Arts since May 2012

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FILM!

AMMONITE

Ammonite now streaming (Starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan)

AMMONITE

  • By RICH ANDREW
  • Photo Courtesy of NEON

With his second feature film, writer and director Francis Lee (God’s Own Country) has crafted a bold love story set in the 1840s in England. The incomparable Kate Winslet (Blackbird) dons the stoic shoulders of renowned paleontologist Mary Anning, both a fossil hunter and an artist with her painstaking restorations of ammonites. Mary’s hardened exterior stems from years of having her work eclipsed by her male peers, and now she struggles amid an equally harsh coastline in search of something beautiful and worthwhile. Beyond her precious fossils, Mary finds that beauty in Charlotte Murchison, a fragile woman suffering from melancholia, played by the always compelling Saoirse Ronan (Little Women). Charlotte is entrusted into Mary’s custody by a husband who chooses to gallivant around Europe instead of caring for his sick wife. Rather than rely on dialogue, the film crafts a forbidden passion between these two women through the skilled performances of Winslet and Ronan alone. Their stolen glances, their silent yearning, their repressed sensuality for this time period are all viscerally felt and culminate into something chilling and yet hyper-erotic. For Winslet and Ronan, it is a masterclass in nuance. With a star-studded cast that also features Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), Gemma Jones (Cold Feet), James McArdle (Mary Queen of Scots), Alec Secareanu (Strike Back), and Claire Rushbrook (Temple), Ammonite is a gem.

Ammonite” streams on demand on December 4th.

MA RAINEY

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom releases December 18th (Starring Viola Davis)

MA RAINEY

  • By RICH ANDREW
  • Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Director George C. Wolfe (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) has added the perfect dash of movie magic to his adaptation of the play by Pulitzer Prize recipient August Wilson. And it all starts and stops with the indomitable force that is Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder). Davis takes on the titular role and titan voice of Ma Rainey, a singer in the 1920s known as Mother of the Blues. Set in Chicago, the film takes place over the course of an arduous recording session. As the band awaits the arrival of their great diva, they butt heads and horns about how best to play the blues. When Ma finally appears to start work on her new album, her white managers try to control her signature sound but end up being no match for Ma. Once again, proving herself to be the consummate chameleon, Davis disappears inside the role, masterfully capturing the unyielding spirit of both Ma and the era while delivering such a delicious performance that it will surely nab her another Oscar. With an incredible cast that also stars Glynn Turman (Fargo), Jeremy Shamos (The Undoing), Colman Domingo (Fear the Walking Dead), Taylour Paige (The Baxters), Dusan Brown (Jamall & Gerald), Jonny Coyne (Preacher), Michael Potts (Cicada), and the late, great Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is pitch perfect.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” premieres December 18th on Netflix.

The Midnight Sky

The Midnight Sky hits Netflix December 23rd (Starring George Clooney)

The Midnight Sky

  • By Kenne Hoffman
  • Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Arriving on Netflix December 23rd is The Midnight Sky, directed by and starring George Clooney. A NASA crew is returning home after exploring a newly discovered moon of Jupiter’s breathe-able atmosphere and habitable climate. They emerge from a communications blackout to find something has gone wrong. The potential new home has been overshadowed by the death of the old one.Clooney plays a scientist at a remote research station who may be the last man on earth. Except he’s not actually alone. A child named Iris (newcomer Caoilinn Springall) hid herself away during the outpost’s evacuation and now depends on him for survival. He feels an overwhelming obligation to venture out of their safe haven to contact the NASA crew and send a warning: turn back!

The film is based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. The cataclysms that consume earth in 2049 are unspecified, but Clooney imagines them to be similar to the traumas that have defined 2020 — political strife, widespread illness, and an engineered environmental collapse. There is a sadness in what man is capable of building and how easily it can be taken away. There is a chance of salvation in the dire world of The Midnight Sky. Clooney wanted it to be about redemption and hopefulness in a bleak story about the end of mankind.

For more details, click here.

Fatman

Fatman is now available (Starring Mel Gibson)

Fatman

  • By Debbie Emery
  • Photo Courtesy of Saban

When the first trailer for Fatman dropped, the universal response was “Huh??? … That’s meant to be Santa … and it’s Mel Gibson?!?” My gut reaction was that it looked like Bad Santa meets Taken – and I couldn’t wait to watch. If you’ve missed the hype so far, the movie stars Mel Gibson as everyone’s favorite fat man, Chris Cringle, who runs a Christmas present shop on a farm near North Peak, Alaska, with his wife, Ruth (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). However, business isn’t good mainly because the world’s children have been increasingly naughty and not nice so the U.S. government send agents to persuade him to take a contract to make a military jet fighter plane. That’s a pretty big leap from wooden trucks and doll houses… Things reach crisis point when rich brat Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield) seeks revenge on Santa for giving him a lump of coal for Christmas and sends a hitman (played by Walton Groggins) to take him out. Luckily, one of the elves sounds the alarm and Father Christmas comes out guns blazing, literally. The dark comedy/action movie directed by Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms is definitely an alternative take on the Christmas story — but what about 2020 is conventional? Maybe this version of Chris Cringle is the hero we all need.

Fatman in select theaters and available on digital download.

What's Hot!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve adjusted our content this month.

LAArtsOnline now features two NEW pages: BOOKS and EXTRA! We’ll look at what’s hot in the world of books and reading along with some suggestions of EXTRA! things to check out, read about, and do!

Stay positive, stay safe.

Paige Petrone
Founder / Publisher

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